House panel OKs substitute bill seeking stiffer penalties for child abuse
The House Committee on Welfare of Children has approved a substitute bill that seeks to deter the the exploitation of minors and impose stiffer penalties for those who abuse them.
Following a hearing conducted last Sep. 3, the committee members approved a substitute bill that seeks to amend several sections of the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act” (Republic Act No. 7610).
The substitute bill was authored by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman and 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Michael Romero.
In a statement, Roman said the law needed updating as the penalties imposed do not seem attuned to the 21st century.
She said the government enacted RA 7610 in June 1992 to allow the state to play a vital role in the safe and wholesome rearing of children for them to become good citizens.
“[The year] 1992 was a quarter of a century ago and now there are still numerous instances where minors are exploited by both foreign and domestic abusers,” Roman said.
The co-authors of the bill are the committee chair, Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Yu, and Reps. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan, Wilter Wee Palma II of Zamboanga Sibugay, John Marvin Nieto and Manuel Luis Lopez of Manila, Manuel Jose Dalipe of Zamboanga City, Ma. Lourdes Aggabao of Isabela, Gus Tambunting of Parañaque, and Rene Relampagos of Bohol.
The bill seeks to amend Section 9 of RA 7610 which provides the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period (14 to 17 years) to any person who will hire, employ, use, persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows, whether live or in video; pose or model in obscene publications or pornographic materials; or to sell or distribute the said materials.
If the child used as a performer, subject or seller/distributor is below 12 years of age, the penalty, as proposed bythe bill, will be reclusion perpetua, or 20 to 40 years.
Meanwhile, the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period, or 17 to 20 years, will be imposed on any ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child who shall cause or allow such child to be employed or to participate in an obscene play, scene, act, movie or show and other illegal acts.
The measure also seeks to amend Section 10 of RA 7610 so that the penalty of reclusion temporal in its minimum period, or 12 to 14 years, will be meted on any person who commits any other acts of child abuse, cruelty, or exploitation or be responsible for the conditions prejudicial to the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
Moreover, the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period and a fine of not less than P500,000 will be imposed upon any person who will keep or have in his company a minor, 12 years or under or who is 10 years or more his junior, in any public or private place, hotel, motel, beer joint discotheque, cabaret, pension house, sauna or massage parlor, beach and/or other tourist resort or similar places.
The bill further states that any person who will induce, deliver or offer a minor to any one prohibited by this act to keep or have in his company a minor will suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period, or 10 to 12 years, and a fine of not less than P400,000.
Should the perpetrator be an ascendant, stepparent or guardian of the minor, the penalty will be reclusion temporal in its medium period, a fine of not less than P500,000 and the loss of parental authority over the minor.
The offender will also be required to undergo a reeducation and reorientation program on child protection to be conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than P500,000 and the loss of the license to operate such a place or establishment will be imposed on any person, owner, manager or one entrusted with the operation of any public or private place of accommodation, whether for occupancy, food, drink or otherwise, including residential places, who allows any person to take along with him to such place or places any minor as described in the act.
The bill imposes the penalty of reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua to any person who will use, coerce, force, or intimidate a street child or any other child to conduct any illegal activities.
The penalty of imprisonment of one year and one day to six years or a fine of P100,000 to P400,00, or both, at the discretion of the court, will be imposed on any employer who violates Section 12, 12-A, and Section 14 of the act.
Section 12 of RA 7610 states that “children below 15 years of age may be employed except when a child works directly under the sole responsibility of his parents or legal guardian and where only members of the employer’s family are employed.”
Section 12-A provides that the employer will ensure the protection, health, safety and morals of the child.
Section 14 prohibits any person from employing child models in all commercials or advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages, intoxicating drinks, tobacco and its byproducts and violence.
The bill also seeks to amend Section 20 of RA 7610 which provides that children of indigenous cultural communities will not be subjected to any and all forms of discrimination, providing a penalty of prision correccional in its medium period, or two to four years, and a fine of P50,000 to P100,000 on the offender.
The offender will also undergo a reeducation and reorientation program on the indigenous peoples culture of the Philippines, to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights. /atm
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